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Bury Free Press readers' letters to the editor

A national row over use of the Union Flag and nighttime safety were among the topics in this week's mailbag.


I have been following recent reports in the media about the use of the Union Flag.

The Union Flag
The Union Flag

This seemed, at first, to be a minor argument but I am alarmed to see it growing in size.

There would seem to be a group of MPs who would like all official buildings to fly the Union Flag, all the time, and not just on special occasions – the Queen’s birthday, for example.

It also cannot have escaped the attention of many of your readers that broadcasts from Number 10 Downing Street now feature an increasing number of Union Flags. A recent broadcast from a minister’s home even had the Union Flag in the background. This was commented on by the interviewer and provoked a backlash from ‘enraged’ persons. One of the ‘enraged’ suggested that the BBC had forgotten what the B in the name stood for. It could be that my spelling is wanting; however, I do not think that either Union Flag or Union Jack begins with a ‘b’ or have a ‘b’ in them.

I am in no way against the use of our flag; however, to see it become ‘politicised’ like this saddens me. In many countries, people of all political persuasions fly their national flag. We do not. I have always thought that to do so is not part of ‘Britishness’ because it politicises a national symbol. We do not - or have not - filled our towns with the Union Flag. We have considered it to be the symbol of our ‘union’ and, remembering the words of Dr Johnson, we have not wrapped ourselves in it to display our patriotism, reserving its use for special and truly national occasions.

If, indeed, the flying of the Union Flag is to become commonplace, we will have lost something from our British culture. The flag will become a cliché and, like a cliché, lose its potency though over-use. We shall also be moving a step closer to resembling those third-rate nations that use their flags to mask their lack of power and security; if you are strong and secure and concentrate on remaining so, you do not need to use a piece of coloured fabric to tell everyone. They know.

Martin Webb, Bury St Edmunds


We hear a lot of negative things and scaremongering these days. I received my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine a couple of days ago in Mildenhall.

The whole experience was nothing but positive.

A huge thank you to all the volunteers that met me at the car park, checked me in and ushered the process along. You were polite and cheerful. The RAF doctor who conducted my screening was reassuring and thorough. The two RAF NCOs who gave me the vaccine were competent and the banter was uplifting. I literally felt no pain at all.

The NHS has done and is doing a fantastic world-leading job.

Our forces are still the best in the world. We still have a lot of positive things to be thankful for.

Ian Watson, via email


The front page of last week’s Bury Free Press highlighted deep concerns around the safety of residents, especially ladies, during the hours of darkness when the street lights on the estates are turned off from 11.30pm to 6.30am.

This matter has come up on many occasions prior, within residents’ groups, with folks concerned about vandalism, property damage, now more importantly people’s safety, returning home from work, late at night, into pitch darkness.

It was my understanding that the computer controlling the lights could switch all lights on and off individually’ across the network of our streets?

I have asked before why is the town centre ablaze, yet our estates plunged into darkness,? Why cannot we have half of the street lights in town switched off after say 1am with half left on in our estates? If this is thought too expensive, then still dim some town centre lights, perhaps after pubs, bars, restaurants close, to safeguard staff going home, then perhaps have a few strategically placed lights left on in the estates.

As an elderly man I had no idea how badly women felt, about their safety, fearful about becoming harassed and vulnerable. I’d been taught to be polite and courteous, always be considerate to others, never realising how threatening it’s become for ladies, that they feel so vulnerable in our streets.

The costs of doing nothing could be deadly. A solution to make people feel safe is a priority for this town. As we come out of the pandemic, our estates must be safe – it’s time to meet this serious problem head-on with affirmative actions, not hollow rhetoric.

Tom Murray, Bury St Edmunds


It was heartwarming to read in last week’s Bury Free Press that, rather than be left to quietly drown in a sea of rubbish, our much-revered pair of steel ‘florabunda’ trees have been moved to a place of safekeeping, while the powers that be come to a decision as to where they should be resited.

As it appears to be such a difficult and time-consuming task, might it be possible to ask the good people of Bury to come up with suggestions as where this pair of (£20,000) embarrassments end up?

Only decent/clean answers will be taken into consideration!

Brian Davies, Bury St Edmunds


I applaud the petition organised to leave street lights on all night (Bury Free Press, March 19) but how frustrating that the community has to take this measure in attempting to restore what should be basic council provision.

When the county council took this decision over 10 years ago, I voted against it and have continued to oppose. The decision to implement what they call ‘part-night lighting’ was based on evidence from Essex County Council with claims that crime did not increase and, in some areas, it even reduced.

Referring to the College of Policing website, it read, ‘overall, the evidence suggests that improved street lighting can reduce crime’, and so I contacted the Police and Crime Commissioner for clarification; who is right, the council or the police? He replied that it would not be appropriate for the constabulary to comment on any council policy.

In a later email he said that the constabulary would continue to request changes to street lighting on an individual basis where there was an evidence- based need.

So, if there’s an incident, the police can request the lights be switched on. I then asked the council why street lights remained on all night during Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve even if there’s no incident.

They said it was because there were more people out and about. I have news for the county council; there are people out and about every night, often doing vital jobs such as hospital staff, other shift workers and those working in the nighttime economy.

Maybe some have just been on a night out but whatever the reason, everyone has the basic right to feel as safe as possible by removing the fear of crime. I believe the council has a duty to do all that is reasonable to ensure that happens but they choose not to do so.

I really hope the petition succeeds but it’s not easy to sway those who know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

Trevor Beckwith, Suffolk County Councillor, Eastgate and Moreton Hall Division


Boris Johnson apparently can’t find the money to give NHS workers the decent pay increase they deserve and foreign aid is being cut by some £4 billion.

But, according to the Defence Review, we are about to see the biggest increase in military spending since the end of the Cold War (£24 billion over four years), including new funding for high-tech warfare with armed drones; increasing Trident nuclear warheads from 180 to 260; a new artificial intelligence centre and a new RAF space command, and a National Cyber Force.

We need huge infrastructure investment to tackle the climate crisis but the Government only pledges £11.6 billion to make that a reality. Added to previous commitments, that makes £24 billion for the climate vs £188 billion for the military over four years.

Other nations have reduced the number of their nuclear warheads since 2019 – why aren’t we reducing ours?

Sadly, our Government seem to be fixated on military threats instead of using diplomacy and, instead of maintaining foreign aid, preparing for another global pandemic (which scientists say is highly likely), and working towards a much-needed new green economy.

Perry Morley, Depden


I can only but agree with Marion Duncan (Letters, March 19) that the John Appleby Rose Garden is looking very sad.

I understand that there are underlying issues that the gardeners there are trying to address. Let us hope that these can be resolved and the roses can bloom again as they have in the past.

May I remind people that Bury in Bloom is a sub-committee of the Bury Society and not a separate entity.

Martyn Taylor, Chairman, The Bury St Edmunds Society


I note that the poetic ‘host of golden daffodils’ on the Mildenhall estate green are again this year the target of mindless vandalism (actually witnessed).

‘Ah, here’s some daffodils, I’ll just whack them with my stick before I go to school, then just finish them off when I return’.

Brenda Hudson, Bury St Edmunds

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